The End of the Internet Dream: the speech that won Black Hat (and Defcon)

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“Software programs are going to be deciding whether a car runs people over, or drives off a bridge.”

Oh dear lord … that would be a heinous place for your facebook page to count.

The battleground of the future is that people in power want more security for themselves at the expense of others. The U.S. Government talks about security as “cyber”. When I hear “cyber” I hear shorthand for military domination of the Internet, as General Michael Hayden, former NSA and CIA head, has said — ensuring U.S. access and denying access to our enemies. Security for me, but not for thee. Does that sound like an open, free, robust, global Internet to you?

I have the same reaction to that word. I listen to a fair amount of radio, and whenever the gov’t interviewee comes on, they can be expected to utter the “cyber” word within the first thirty seconds of a question regarding the Internet. Now, probably more than ever, US elected officials are starting to see the internet as merely a place that will attack and steal, as opposed to being a place to allow a free exchange of information without corporate or government bounds. Great talk–I hope she’s wrong in her presumptions!


Cyber here means “related to cybernetics”, and in particular an approach to system control/governance. It’s the idea that control is not most effectively gained by applying direct force on the element you want to dominate. Instead, understand that element’s place within systems, and position yourself to influence the flow of resources around the element so that it “naturally” takes the course you determine.

Applied to computer hacking, it’s the recognition that you don’t have to 0wn the box if you own the network.


When I hear “cyber” I hear shorthand for military domination of the Internet…

“The End of the Internet Dream,” cyberlawyer Jennifer Granick’s keynote at Black Hat…


Clearly a term she wouldn’t use in reference to herself.

Read the text and it contains a lot of woo.

While its true that the “security community” has been historically good at developing talent out of the non standard profiles, unfortunately the non standard talent continues to be better at breaking things than fixing them. The days of a non standard person like Marcus J Ranum writing software which defends the US Govt are long gone. The only reason it happened in the first pace was some beltway bandits gave MJR a shot at doing so (full disclosure, I used to work for those particular beltway bandits). These days the defending and keeping things from breaking in the first place talent may still include a few non standard profiles but the best talent is mostly from the IDF.

Perhaps if more of those of us who valued the possibilities took some responsibility things might be different. Trouble is the non standard talent pool often doesn’t see the value in building things for the regular people.

Actually, working for the U.S. Govt as a “non standard” cog is a bit of a lark. They only want subsets of non standard that fit within a specific predefined boundary. Actually hacked something? No thank you. Done drugs? No thank you. Almost, but not quite, “not a strait white male?”, no thank you. M

I had to be subcontracted three layers deep to “hide” me from the USAF as in those days records were only required of the sub contractors sub contractor. I worked for the guy on my left, who in turn did the same. It was a joke but it was necessary if they wanted me, who does not fit the mold, on the team.

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